Sunday, November 10, 2019

Brain Waves

Last week at school one of the receptionists in the faculty office area pointed to a basket of small candies and indicated that they were from Canada. That stopped me in my tracks.  My grandfather was Canadian and during his visits to Motown he would often bring candy bars. Without a doubt the family favorite was a treat called ‘Coffee Crisp’ that we kids would fight over.

So when my eyes swept the pile of goodies, that’s what I was seeking. Unfortunately, there was none to be had. I briefly explained the background for it and went on my way. I hadn’t thought about these in years and could not remember the last time I’d had one.

Upon returning home that night I found a small bag on the counter. Turns out my wife had been in a local store that carries a wide variety of products from around the world. Inside was a Coffee Crisp.  With a laugh I told her about the conversation earlier in the day.

“Our brains are on the same wave lengths,” she said.   

It’s something we’ve experienced a few times before. And I know of others, often people who have been close together for many years or have some bond where they pick up on each other’s thoughts. It’s the kind of connection some writers will use with their characters.  Some will take it to the level of super powers. Others have it more as a quirk of human nature.  

It’s one of my habits as a writer to utilize such moments. They can be part of an everyday situation, something that the readers may identify with. Which is something I’m always striving to do. 

Here’s an example of that psychic connection in an excerpt from “Why 319?”

In this scene, Chene and his partner, Megan McDonald, are interviewing Simone Bettencourt, the roommate of the latest homicide victim.  

“When was the last time you saw Janet?”

She raked her fingers through her hair, actually pulling it into some semblance of order. “Wednesday night. She was here when I came home from the bar. I stopped off for a couple of glasses of wine with some people from work. We talked for a little, then she crashed. She was gone for work Thursday before I got up.”

“You didn’t see her Thursday night?” Megan asked.

“No. I didn’t come home until early this morning.” She turned those brown eyes on me. I got the feeling she was daring me to ask where she’d been. So I did. There was anger in her voice as she answered.

“I had dinner with my mother Thursday. I ended up staying the night. I had a date after work Friday. It was a group thing. We went to a concert and then a bar afterwards. I got home around three. I’ve been waiting up for her since then.”

“So why did you say you knew she was dead?” Megan asked.

“Because I saw her die.” 

* * *

I tested the coffee. It was strong without any frills. Megan added a couple scoops of sugar from the tray. She preferred coffee with enough sweetness to make ice cream. “Let’s get back to your comment that you saw her die,” I said. “Because earlier you said you didn’t see Janet yesterday.”

“I didn’t physically see her. But I saw the image of her being killed as I was coming in the apartment.”

“Look, Miss Bettencourt…”

“Simone. Please, just call me Simone.”

“Okay. Simone. Can you describe what you saw?”

The eyes burned into me for a second. Maybe she thought I was just humoring her. Maybe I was. But she seemed serious. There was no harm in letting her explain.

“Janet and I developed this over the years. It’s not uncommon. Usually it happens with people who spend a lot of time together, like married couples, close friends. They say it’s really strong in twins. We could finish each other’s sentences. Complete each other’s thoughts. It was sort of a combination of déjà vu and telepathy.”

“Can you give me any examples?” Megan asked.

“One time, Janet was running late. Suddenly, I had the image that she was in a car accident. Not five seconds later, my phone rang. She’d been rear ended less than a mile from here. She was okay, but her car was a mess.”

“Any others?” Megan asked.

“Once I left the oven on. There was a towel stuck in the oven door. It started to catch fire. Janet sensed there was something wrong and came home. She pulled it out just before the whole stove was burning. We used to laugh about it.

“But it wasn’t something predictable. I think it was really triggered by the emotions. Maybe it’s tied to adrenaline when it enters your system.”

I took a second before asking my question. Megan sipped her coffee, then absently broke an edge off a muffin and popped it into her mouth. Simone kept watching me. “Give me an example of the emotions. You talked about the accident. Were there any others?”

“Yes. Janet was stronger. She could sense things happening to me more frequently but didn’t talk about it. I didn’t get the images of her as often. When I did, they were usually very intense. Then it would fade out quickly. Like the night she lost it. Her emotions were running wild. She was nervous, anxious, excited, scared, and aroused all at the same time.”

Before she could continue, Megan leaned back so she was no longer in Simone’s peripheral vision and mouthed the word “sex.” I had already figured that one out.

“Did she mention a new boyfriend?” I asked.

“No. She’d broken up with Tony, the guy she’d been involved with, about six months ago. His job got transferred out of state. There was no way she’d consider moving. Besides, he wasn’t that good to her. Janet complained that he only wanted to do it one way. He wasn’t even open to discussing other positions.” She gave her head a little shake. “What an ass.”

I’d waited long enough, so I rephrased my earlier question. “Okay. Describe the image you saw last night.”

Simone took in a long, slow breath. “It looked like a hotel room. Cream-colored walls with cheap artwork, like a seascape. There was one large bed. Janet was sprawled across it. She was naked. She was having trouble focusing and breathing. She couldn’t move her arms and legs much. It was like she was very, very drunk. And then there was the pillow.”

“What else?” I asked.

“All of her attention was on the pillow. It came down slowly, covering her face. But it slipped, leaving her right eye exposed. She could see a blurry image. But she couldn’t do anything to stop him.”

Megan cleared her throat. “Could you see him, enough to describe him?”

“He was smooth. All I can tell you is that he was really smooth.”

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Music this week comes from an old favorite by John Lennon.

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